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Creating Misfit: a Juice Brand Unlike Any Other Juice Brand

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 11/20/2017 | 7 Minute Read

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Anywhere between 30-40% of food is wasted in the United States. Misfit Juice wants to put an end to food waste, so it’s made from the fruits and vegetables that have been saved from being wasted. We spoke to the agency behind the design, Gander, to learn a little bit more about how to highlight the unique brand values of Misfit, how the design translated onto social media and swag, the importance of remaining flexible during the design process, and more.

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Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Gander: Our design process begins with a brand kickoff where we interview the client and get insight into things like brand mission, challenges, and what they hope to accomplish with the new brand. From there, we conduct research, analyze the competitive landscape, interview members of the team, distributors and consumers, and glean as much as we possibly can about the brand and the product as it currently stands. This upfront work lays the foundation for the rest of the project and really gives us the context we need to build brand language and create the identity.

Once the strategic foundation has been laid, we move on to visuals. First we start with mood boards, which will determine the overall brand look and feel. Once that is finalized we move on to rounds of branding and iteration, and eventually we land on final packaging. The final step is applying the brand to digital touch points like the website, social media, and email communications. Bonus step: creating swag. We made t-shirts, buttons stickers and hats (which we wear on a regular basis).  

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What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Misfit packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Gander: Create a juice brand like no other juice brand. Not just for the sake of standing out but because the product is truly unique and has a great mission. We accomplished that by establishing a unique brand voice to start with. For us, a brand has to hold up on the bottle but also in advertising, online and social media. By creating a unique brand positioning and language we were really able to guide the attitude of the brand visuals.

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How did you decide on the font and illustration style?

Gander: The Misfit word mark came out of a truly iterative process and features custom, hand-drawn typography. It started with a very loose and folky aesthetic that was refined to where it is now with a bit more structure but still plenty of attitude. The goal was to show how oddballs (in this case, letterforms), may not fit in with the average crowd but come together to make something beautiful.

The illustration style came from our desire to challenge what is considered a “perfect” fruit or veggie. It was a really fun exercise to draw pretty much any shape and say, “that’s a lemon” or “that’s a carrot”. From there we were able to create a cast of fun characters that is infinitely expandable and come together to create beautiful patterns. We wanted to be able to zoom in really far and get just a slice (no pun intended) of a lemon, or zoom out and have a beautiful collage of produce. Using these flat graphics allowed us to play with virtually any scale and maintain the brand attitude. The challenge was to make it feel quirky and imperfect, while still being balanced and aesthetically pleasing.

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What was the most challenging part of this project?

Gander: This product is so different, and we needed to communicate that quickly on shelf. This led into a lengthy hierarchy study to figure out the organization of several must-have items on the front of pack: brand recognition, flavor name, ingredients, the social mission, and engaging illustrations to quickly tell the story of “this isn’t your average juice, and we’re proud of that.” After several iterations, we found a system that was able to include all of these elements without becoming too busy or misleading.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Gander: We love everything about this brand and are so proud of the content we created for them. But one of the things I think we’re most proud of was a concept for a zine. The premise is that Misfit is reducing the amount of waste, and the result is that trash cans are now really empty and alone. That sounds really dark, but it had a very humorous and witty approach that we felt was really in line with the brand. We developed a few concepts that explore the life of these trash cans, one of which was called “Trash Cans Seeking Trash”—a spin on personal ads where we swap humans for different types of trash receptacles. While this is currently just conceptual, we can’t wait to make this a real thing and love how it expands upon the Misfit brand and goes beyond just juice.

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Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Gander: Be flexible and stay solution oriented. At one point, right before going to print, we realized the packaging design wasn’t aligning exactly with the brand vision and, together with the client, decided to basically go back to the drawing board. At the time it felt like a huge failure but having that foundation allowed us to see things more clearly and make some major shifts that ultimately improved the final design.

At another point in time, we had finalized artwork and planned on the labels being printed on clear so parts of the juice color could come through. When we actually went to production the clear labels were making the colors super muddy, but switching to clear matte (which would make the colors pop) looked terrible on the bottle. In the end we scrapped the clear idea and switched to full color printing on white labels, which actually looked a lot better.

All this to say, we learned that you have to always be willing to adjust things on the fly and trust your best instincts. Things aren’t always going to go according to plan, and that’s ok.

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